Holly Springs Deep Dive

Episode 39 - Being Black in Holly Springs

June 09, 2020 Karen Shore Episode 39
Holly Springs Deep Dive
Episode 39 - Being Black in Holly Springs
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

These past two weeks have only added to my own level of reflection about the world we’re living in. Between the murder of George Floyd and local, national and worldwide protests, it’s hard to know which way is up. One thing I know for sure is that we as a society desperately need to start listening to our fellow human beings and community members who happen to have skin that’s darker than our own.

That’s what this episode is: an opportunity for you to just listen. These are members of your community, right here in Holly Springs, who have experienced racism in big ways and small ways, here and far away. This is such a small representation of what happens every single day in neighborhoods, stores, offices, and schools and on the road to Target or Harris Teeter or the school carpool line.

Listen closely, as I have, as the emotion creeps in for one contributor, frustration for another, empowerment from yet another as they share their experience of being black in Holly Springs.  These testimonials are entirely unedited, except to link together multiple separate recordings by the same contributor.

NOTE: You WILL hear the n-word in this episode, hence the "EXPLICIT" warning, although it should be noted that people who are called this word aren't given warning at all. Thanks to friend of the program Christy Griffith for that nugget. ;)

Let’s all just listen.

Black Lives Matter. Absolutely.

Support the show
Welcome to Episode 39 of the Holly Springs deep dive podcast. These past two weeks have only added to my own level of reflection about the world we're living in. Between the murder of George Floyd and local, national and worldwide protests, it's hard to know which way is up. One thing I know for sure is that we, as a society, desperately need to start listening to our fellow human beings and community members who happened to have skin that's darker than our own. That's what this episode is an opportunity for us all to just listen. These are members of your community, right here in Holly Springs who have experienced racism in big ways and small ways, here and far away. This is such a small representation of what happens every single day in neighborhoods stores offices and schools and on the road to target or Harris Teeter or the school carpool line. Listen closely as I have as the emotion creeps in for one contributor, frustration for another, empowerment from yet another as they share their experiences of being black in Holly Springs. They're entirely unedited, except to link together multiple separate recordings by the same contributor. This is the last you'll hear my voice in this episode. Let's all just listen.

My name is Nicole Meggerson de Martinez. I am a 57 year old black woman. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and I moved to Holly Springs in 2015. I am appreciative of the opportunity to share my experience with racism. I don't know of a black person that hasn't experienced racism and in some regard one way or the other, I have a couple of experiences that I'd like to share and, and I hope that it opens eyes of those who have not experienced racism and hopefully some empathy can be developed as a result. I'm going to start off with my father who is an exceptionally brilliant man. He's a retired engineer. He used to design guidance systems for the military. And one day one of his subordinates had car problems and so he drove him home from work. He lived in a suburb of Los Angeles and on his way home, was pulled over by the Burbank police department. My father pulled over And the police asked for his driver's license and, and insurance which my father provided. And they gave it back to them and said, you know, colored people aren't supposed to be in Burbank after dark. We don't want to see you here again.

For a professional man, a brilliant man,

an educated man, it was very humiliating and demoralizing and I and I saw the anger in my, my father's personality after that, so it was very difficult to to see him experience that. More recently, my mother was driving to visit me in Pasadena, California. And at the time, my mother was 70 year old retired assistant school principal For Los Angeles area high school, and she was driving her 700 series BMW. She was pulled over for a traffic stop and the police officer came to her window and as she reached over for her purse to get her license and ID or license and insurance, the police officer drew his gun on her. Just imagine a 70 year old professional educator

having a gun drawn on her.

She was shaken by the time she got to my house she was just visibly shaken.

It rattles me to to share that experience.

For my brother, a young black man growing in Los and growing up in Los Angeles. He experienced abuse on a somewhat frequent basis. My mother recently said that she was never afraid for him when he was in the military when he was out on deployment. She was never afraid for him, but she was always afraid when he came home. And one time he was home on leave and he walked to the local fast food restaurant and was walking home with his food in in his bag in hand and the police just pulled up alongside of them as he was walking down the sidewalk and threw him to the ground with his food just flying across the sidewalk, and they made him kick his leg. They kicked his legs open and made him you know, lay prone on the sidewalk and they took care of out of his pockets and it's where they found his military ID and then they let him go. I'm getting teary as I share these experiences and you live it, you experience it, you get over it, but it is just so horrifying to have to delineate these things and and see this is something that people who are respectful respectable members of society have to endure without any recourse. And one experience that I had, which was extremely humiliating, I was driving home in rush hour traffic, it was bumper to bumper wasn't moving very quickly at all in Los Angeles, as you can imagine. And a police officer drove up alongside me and I've always been licensed and I've always had insurance. My tags have always been up to date. So I wasn't intimidated at all Well, they decided to pull me over. I immediately pulled over and they pulled me out of the car. I was in a business suit, a skirt suit, pantyhose and high heels and they handcuffed me and made me sit on the curb while they searched through my car. They found nothing. They let me go and I drove home. And it's horrifying to think back on those interactions. I was never hurt. Fortunately, no one in my family has ever been hurt by the police. But when you are at the mercy of those that literally have a license to kill, you learn to keep your mouth shut. You learn not to speak up. You learn to make it home safely. That if you do choose to fight, you do it from a position of safety. I was recently listening to a colleague share that she had never known about the talk that black families give their children before. They're allowed to drive. And I'll share this with anyone who wants to hear it. I have three sons. And before they were able to drive on their own before they got the keys to the car to go out on their own, we had to roleplay with them. We made them sit in a chair and demonstrate exactly how they would act exactly what they would say exactly how they would position their bodies. Exactly how their tone of voice would be communicated. If they were ever pulled over by the police. That is something Think that all black families teach their young men especially but also their daughters. It's a sad state of events. But I think that all that's going on now. I'm encouraged and I'm hopeful hopeful that allies in the community are horrified as we've been horrified for decades in our standing in arms with us arm in arm with us to make changes that are so so desperately needed. Thank you for allowing me to share.

Good morning, Karen. There are a lot of things that I could tell you about that are subtle, as well as in your face blatant racism that we have experienced as individuals and as a family. People are intrusive. They ask questions that are none of your business that you wouldn't ask. If my child wasn't biracial. There are people who this is this is a hard one for me to answer Karen honestly. Because in the past 20 years since we adopted Sam, we have experienced so many things that just make your jaw drop to wonder how this is actually happening. We literally have lost friends who did not understand why we adopted a black child. We and they proceeded to tell us all the reasons why we should never adopt a child. To give you a couple of local examples. However, Sam is our oldest child. And we have two biological females. They are blond hair blue add little girls. Sam got his Vehicle this year driver's license. So his youngest sister, who's now eight, at the time was seven years old at the local elementary school, participating in an after school program. We asked Sam if he would pick her up because we were doing things. He his own the pickup list. He has vehicle that he drives, so everything was covered from protection standpoint. When he went to pick up his sister, they questioned that he truly was her brother, even though she was standing there, excitedly saying his name. They weren't going to let her get in the car with Sam. It was humiliating and embarrassing for Sam. As parents we had done everything to let the school know that he was an authorized person to pick her up period. In addition, he will go and pick her up and In the carpool line after school, the same thing would happen. It happened twice. And then it happened in girls are an after school program that she was participating in. And he won't go get her anymore because it is embarrassing to him. And I can't say that I blame him. That's a local thing. Another local example or thing that we are concerned about when he is out driving, that he has his ID ready for showing if he gets pulled over. One of the things we are kind of glad about is our son drove or decided to drive a pickup truck. And so he is not perceived as a black male. When they see the pickup truck, the stigma the stereotype is not associated with the truck. Had he chosen a smaller car that was actually a sedan type vehicle tinted windows. The result would be different. That is a sad thing to say. But the truck that he drives is perceived as a redneck. So he doesn't get stopped as often. But however he has been taught to about the safety when he does stop, you know, how he has to behave, it is a different conversation that we have with our child about how he should behave if a police officer pulls him over. So we make sure he comes home, it is a different thing that you have to worry about as a parent, and to say that it is not real, is to put on blinders and to be naive, because the problem of him being seen as a person of color is simply that that is how he's perceived. First, a lot all the time. Another example a very popular hairstyle with for Sam is called waves. And in order to achieve waves, you have to wear a do rag on your head which is like a tad scarf around the head when he wears this He is listening to his very loud music, lots of times as rap music. And he has on a tank top. He is perceived, looked at and seems to be a thug. And he is not. He is a teenager who is achieving a hairstyle, listening to music. But that's not how he is viewed. When he goes into the store, he's not allowed to wear a hoodie because of how he'll be perceived. And it has happened. You're looked at funny you do get questioned.

I have two more examples for you. You got me all in my feels right now. So we have a place on a popular ski resort in North Carolina, top of the mountain gated community, you have to check in at the gate and then they give you your owner's pass in essence to go up and you park in the owners parking lot. When you pull to the top of the resort, you have to pull your car in front of it. The gate rises and you go and park in the owners parking. Recently, we went up to the resort and the my son was driving and his best friend was in the front seat with him. I was in the backseat with the girls. The windows are tinted. It's a suburban, we put pull up to the gate, and they check us in. We drive up to the top and we pull up to the gate to bark in the owners parking lot. The gate doesn't rise doesn't, doesn't rise. So finally, a security guard comes out of the building. Security Guard was yelling at Sam, what do you think you're doing? You can't just pull up to a gate and just bet you own something. And I was very angry and he kept calling Sam boy. So I busted out of the backseat missing the running thing because I stepped out so fast, almost fail and started charging towards a security guard asking him who Do you think you're talking to who the hell do you think you're talking to? And he started Stumbling on his words and backpedaling he didn't see me there. Here's this middle aged white woman coming out he thinks he is braiding a teenage, young black male and showing a force of power. When I confronted him man, he was very, very one ad on his behavior in his tone, asked him what the problem was. He said, as you can't just pull up in part, you have to come in and check in. I said, we've been here for almost 15 years. We've done it the same way every single time. I asked to see the card that we are supposed to be signing the file for the building that we are in for the unit that we own show me my signatures for the past 15 years of when we have checked in, they could not produce anything because as a white family pulling in either my husband or myself generally driving, we just pull in and we park. This time however security guard came out and you My son, calling him a boy and telling him how he could not just pull in like he owns something. They were very contrite, very apologetic, and, oh, it's procedure. I signed one of the cards. I said, Now you have one on file. And I said, Okay, I think that you did this because my son is black, to which the security guard says, oh, you're going to make this a race thing? To which I replied, No, sir. You made it a race thing. I am just pointing out your ignorance and your prejudice with which you just treated my child in the name of rules. This just happened about a month ago. It was upsetting to Sam. It was embarrassing. And it can't be undone. The things that people do in the name of following the rules. They don't follow the rules the same way. People are treated differently within the confines of rules. It is but they're not doing anything wrong, because they're following the rules. But yet they don't make white people come in and say Like they did for Sam, it was

just another example.

A funny example would be when Sam was younger, this lady was asking a lot of questions about how we adopted a black child and just lots of questions and very racial and very ugly. And so I finally could not get her to stop. She would not take the social cues. She wasn't reading them. She wasn't stopping as I tried to get her to stop. So I turned it back on her in essence, and said, Yes, I know, my husband, and now we're having trouble conceiving a child. So we went to a for delivery clinic, and we chose number 6134, or whatever number I said at the time, number 6134. And we and it worked, and we were so excited. much to our surprise when Sam was born. He was biracial. And that was because they gave us number 6143 That person was dyslexic. But don't you worry. We are rich, rich, rich now, actually, the lady did not laugh. She was very embarrassed for us, and was like appalled, oh my god. And then I turned and walked away. It was an uncomfortable moment finished with a joke, which made it memorable. There are so many examples like that, though, that they're hard to recount at this moment, really. But you got me all in the fields. There are just times when we're looked at funny or people say comments and things like that. It's just different.

I believe it's time to speak up and try to make a difference. This is my experience. And I'm going to thank you all for listening. On Friday, June 5, it was just a normal day. I walked out a Walgreens and I noticed that there was a bunch of cop cars surrounded intersection. I was very confused on what was going on. If people or hurt or if something was serious was going on. So I slowly started to approach and then I noticed that this lady was on the sidewalk taking pictures of something in the distance. So I approached her, and I asked her what was going on? And she was telling me that there was a protest going on, and people are marching. I was like, Oh, well really, I didn't know anything about this and she told me all about it. And she gave me a bunch of good information and how I could help and support while I was putting the information into my phone I don't know where a rude person just screams out "Go get an effing job you N-word!"

I definitely was not expecting that.

But I definitely did know how to react.

Getting angry at that is not the way To fight back. At that moment, I could tell that lady felt really bad for me, but I didn't feel bad.

Because this is what I

go through on a regular basis. This is a part of my life. And many of the people just like me have to experience too.

I told the lady Don't worry about it is nothing new. It happens all the time. And I could tell that she was heartbroken by that, but it's the truth. I definitely wasn't expecting that to happen to me. Right when that happened to me, right when that man, whoever that man was in the Dodge Camaro, the black dodge Camaro, who yo that really nasty words to me. I want to thank you, because you gave me the power to join that march to protest and to do it the right way. You Because you can't fight hate with hate. And that's what I refuse to do. And after that day, I'm gonna put in all my effort and energy to try to make a difference. Because at the end of the day, all lives matter. Not just want everyone.

All lives matter why? Because no matter the race, the gender, the religion, we are all humans, and no one is better than anyone.

After being in Holly Springs for a while, it was apparent that there was a underlying theme of you're here but not quite here. Or you're one of us, but not quite one of us. So I'm not only after working in the city for a while, and I felt that there were several people who knew me It was certain times of nights that if you go certain places, certain comments, I thought black people, like the sun would come up, or people would inappropriately touch your skin to see if your blackness was real. That's when you realize that you probably was the only black in a lot of situations. And so if you want it to survive, it was better for you to just not say nothing or act like it wasn't uncomfortable. That was my experience plenty of times at social events, or even working with different projects in the Holly Springs area. It was one of the reasons why I did decide to actually leave the area, because it was apparent that either I was foreign or I really wasn't Welcome there. Because every time I was there, it seemed like I became the representative of all things black, that's when the inappropriate or racially insensitive questions would come up. So if you know anything about surviving, especially having a deep history of how things were in the south, you learn to comply. And if you say the wrong thing, you know, by being the only black, it would make you feel as if you might disappear. So I've always obliged and did whatever I thought was best in order to survive until I was in a position to leave.

I've been asked to speak on living in Holly Springs and things that may be going on, or that me and my family have experience through our time in Holly Springs.


I want to start


my childhood I'm


talking about 12 years old actually stayed in new Hill. So as you know, that's a sistering city or count actually, to Holly Springs and back when I was growing up. We had to go to Holly Springs to go to the grocery store. And my babysitter's and everyone I knew that took care of me stayed in Holly Springs as well. And then eventually when I was 12, my mom decided that that's what we're going to move to. Now, many don't know me. I am Sheena Sinclair, maiden name Sheena, dial Seymour. And I am biracial. So I'm African American and American Indian. So with that being said, Experience racism on both sides of my nationality. The first time I can never remember, my mom will tell me stories when I was younger and in elementary school things that happening, but I don't remember those. Personally myself. I was too young. But the first time that I experienced it, and it hurt, and I felt the pain of it was in high school, my ninth grade year. Now we've all been to school we've learned the history of African Americans and Native Americans based on the textbooks.

But we had I was walking down the hallway with a

friend of mine who happened to also be biracial, half African American and half American Indian and a White Boy stopped us and said that he needed to ask us a question. And many of them knew we were definitely Native American because we had done some presentations and things like that. So he asked, if we were Native American. Why are we not in buckskin? and living in teepees? Native American, he told us that Native Americans did not exist, and that they were all killed.

Now this, there's really something by surprise.

Someone who is in school,

and obviously has made it to ninth grade to think this line I never understood still to this day, not understanding how he could. He could get that and how he felt that way. It took a lot, especially in my friend To walk away, we both looked at him and told him he was ignorant. And we walked away from that situation but that has resonated with me my whole life. And that was my first experience. Many people when looking at me, don't always see what nationality I am or understand what nationality am because I am biracial. I have got that I am white. I have got that I am either black and white mixed or some type of Latino, you know, whatever it may be. So, the second intro instance that really got to me and I cannot understand I have in my whole life, always had to tell people, what nationality I am and I was working in Holly Springs at a dry cleaners at the time. And a lady came in with a cashmere sweater. Well, she wanted her cashmere sweater walks and not sparkling per our regulations. Because of course if you watch a cashmere sweater, we all know what can happen to it. So I had to explain to her that we weren't allowed to wash it because we would be responsible if something was to happen to her sweater. And prior regulations, we couldn't do that. And then proceeded to tell her what we could do for her.

Well, she proceeded to tell me that my

that I am sorry, is this still hard with me for me, but that I did not deserve to be working in the front counter, and that I deserved to be working in the back when niggers are supposed to work. have never been called at work in my whole entire life never could understand why what my friends and my family had went through because I did not under. I never experienced that at this point in my life, but when that happened, one, it shocked me.

I guess said I've never experienced that. And to her.

I didn't understand why she thought I should not be at the front counter. had worked there for two years had never had a complaint was a great person still in customer service to this day love customer service. So it really hurt. My assistant manager at the time, who happened to be white as well. was very supportive. She did ask me to go to the bank just because I was in so much in rage that we wanted to make sure I did not lose my job. And she proceeded to tell this lady to take her cashmere sweater and her service. elsewhere and never come back. Now the owner of the company did put up fliers that she was no longer allowed to use our services at any of our locations, and she was banned. So it felt really great at that time to feel the support and comfort of my co workers and management. So I really appreciate it that now as time has gone on, I have moved backward. I went to college and moved back Springs area where now I have my kids in school in Holly Springs, and I realized how much things had changed and what had went on. throughout time I was gone. For one, you know, we come back and it's grown up so much more than when we left I mean like I've seen it grow from being just the food line and Sonic To all these places now, so I have had to experience that but also the type of people that are bold enough now to speak the way they do. And people who have moved to this area with already those things in mind, I don't know if it's more of people moving to the area, or if it's more people just been more comfortable saying it. But I fear I literally fear for my kids. Um, I will never forget the night. That was Halloween, and my son went out of his friends who all have happen to be African American to trick or treat. And I did not know, wrenching Of course he got in trouble for that. But I didn't know where he was and I was terrified at the time and When, um


what feared me the most is that this group of boys who have or maybe African American, I'm running up on the wall in person or being at the wrong place at the wrong time as far as others consent and something happening to them. So when I did see him, because I was so terrified of the situation, I laid into one more than what I should have. Because we fear that I fear letting my kids out of my sight in our own neighborhood. Because of the comments that I've seen on our neighborhood page. Our Ladies of Holly Springs page or wherever I may be on Facebook, and the comments that have been made about Oh, there's this black boy walking around, what's he up to, not sure if he's stealing stuff like, what just just because he's black. And he's a young boy, he may be in some kind of mess that that really hurts. Um I was really shocked to hear my husband say the things that he said when getting pulled over. This happened probably two years ago. We had bought it he had bought a truck in truck so happened to come with 10 that we did not know was regulations. He was coming out of our neighborhood and we stopped by police. And when the police stopped him, they had a nerve to say, Why are you coming out of this neighborhood, as if he wasn't allowed to be in that neighborhood, as if he could not even live in that neighborhood.

That that's not right. You know, when you can pull up someone's

tags and know that they live in that neighborhood because it was for sure registered in our neighborhood. You already know that why would that even be a question? Not you know your tents messed up or tense, not regulation and we need to make sure that's taken care of. Whatever the situation is, why is the first question you asked my husband who happens to be African American? Why is he coming out of this neighborhood?


This is not okay. Well, we are going through

as minorities

as people of color, regardless,

is ridiculous.

Holly Springs should never be this way. Holly Springs used to be a predominantly African American community. Yes. Many people don't know that. What is Who would not even drive will try their best to drive around Holly Springs and not go through. I've heard these stories all through growing up. We are a mixed community now. I grew up in a mixed community now. So for us to be targeted. And for us to not be able to feel comfortable in our own community in our own homes without being feeling threatened or scared for our children or men. is unacceptable. To know that our police officers don't even have body cams. So if something was to go down, if no one is recording, we don't have proof. We need change. Not just in Holly Springs but we are going to start here and it means to change. I am not wanting to be the mother that Fearing every day, my child turns 18 and I'm scared for his life and what will happen when he is no longer in my area, he's no longer here with me to protect the he has to go out on his own.

So we have to change things. It's got to change. We've got to learn to love one another regardless of our color and to understand where people are coming from.

This is just the start.

Just a start. Thank you.

Hello, my name is Andre Smith. I'm currently reside in Wake County, North Carolina. I've been given opportunity to speak at a time where I felt that I was discriminated because of my accent.

My perspective on that is

I grew up a little bit differently. I grew up on military bases. Most of my adolescent life was in South Dakota, Mississippi and Texas, North Carolina as well. So it was just a little bit different. I didn't have the same experiences. We were kind of like our own community. I don't even remember even ever feeling like I was discriminated while I was on base. When I went off base to school, I went to private school, private charter school most of my life. in ninth grade living in Mississippi was a little bit different. I was called the N word in the bathroom. And that was my first experience and I didn't really know how to react to that because I never it wasn't a word I heard freely anywhere. So that was probably my first interaction with me and judge strictly based off skin color or nationality. At this point in my life, I'm being adult male, which children, I guess that would be my main focus, worried about them ever having to have to have that experience where someone is making a judgement or making them feel uncomfortable about their color skin or looks and girl so I'm always reaffirming them and let them know who they are as women and black women more importantly, and let them know that they're beautiful and they can do anything they set their minds to and just reassure them every chance I get that I'm black people come in so many shapes, sizes and colors and don't ever let anyone tell you any differently. So myself I guess I just have been so used to it happening all the time. I just got kind of desensitized to it. Go for just walking beside someone and someone clutching their purse or look into differently. You know, usually I wear suits to work every day. I can see how different people treat me in a suit. Like I'm not threatening or you know, he must be a lawyer doctor. He's not anyone who's you know, I don't have to worry. But I have noticed when I change clothes or wear sneakers, I love wearing sneakers and sneakers or sweats. I do see a different look on people's faces. So you know if it's a small subtle things that I noticed as an adult, I'm always trying to protect my children from those snares and things they I know they will have to address sooner or later, but I try to protect them as much as I can. And I'm even with my oldest. We've had some interesting conversations about certain things even coming from the school system, about looks and daughter made her play and they had to have their hair a certain way. Director made comments about my daughter having her hair a certain way. And her hair is not natural to go and do that. So that was a teachable moment for myself and my child. So I hope you know that I've shared something with somebody. Maybe I can learn something from this and thank you for your time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Testimonial 1 (Nicole)
Testimonial 2 (Sam's mom)
Testimonial 3 (at the Holly Springs protest)
Testimonial 4 (do I belong?)
Testimonial 5 (Sheena)
Testimonial 6 (Andre)